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Warriors' bats whale on The Dalles for win


by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha junior starting pitcher Courtney Coombs struck out seven in a complete game win over The Dallles on Wednesday April 3.

It’s not about me, it’s about we.

The Aloha softball team has now won fives games in a row and done so with an impressive combination of offensive outbursts, defensive rigor and an allegiance to true team effort. Even as Westview has emerged as the darlings of the Metro League, the Warriors are rising as they make their way through the preseason, and Wednesday, April 3, was the latest example.

Relying on each other to come through at the plate, and trusting one another in the field behind pitcher Courtney Coombs, Aloha thumped The Dalles, 9-2, to run its preseason record to 5-3.

“I like how we came out strong and outdid them mentally,” said senior third baseman Shelby Ratcliffe. “I feel like we came out excited and ready to play today.”

“The good thing about our team is we’re really balanced out,” added senior shortstop Michelle Silva. “We don’t have the absolute best anywhere. But, we’re pretty evenly spread out, which is what makes us win games and work as a team to get there.”

Aloha opened the game swinging the sticks with authority and aplomb. Silva’s RBI single up the middle scored Coombs in the first, and sophomore first baseman Lexi Wahlstrom stroked a double to left down the foul line that scored Silva and Emily Powers. Then, sophomore catcher Mackenzie Sibert took an outside pitch the opposite way with two outs to plate Wahlstrom that handed Aloha a 4-0 first inning lead.

In the third, Ratcliffe reached on a two-out single and Sibert followed with a single that turned into a double after Ratcliffe hustled from first to third and slid safely into the hot corner. With Cidney Marshall standing at the plate, Ratcliffe scored on a wild pitch to extend the advantage to 5-1. Marshall tapped out to the pitcher, but Ratcliffe’s base knock and ensuing heads-up hustle yielded another run.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha junior second baseman Emily Powers preps to throw to first base for an out in the fifth inning of the Warriors win over The Dalles.

“We know we’re usually stronger than the pitchers,” said Ratcliffe. “We knew if we came out aggressive and ready to hit the ball, we’d do well at the plate. We’ve definitely been working a lot on hitting in practice, and coming together. We have a lot of confidence, one through nine (in the lineup).”

In the circle, Coombs’ only struggle of the contest came in the top of the third when The Dalles loaded the bases with one out. The junior walked two and threw a wild pitch that let the Indians get on the scoreboard, but the righty struck out the next batter and provoked a grounder for the third out to escape the jam.

“I just tried settling down and let the defense work,” said Coombs. “I took some deep breaths and took my time. I wanted to get back in my groove.”

Coombs only allowed three hits the rest of the way and finished with a complete game, seven-strikeout, four-walk outing that surely instilled coming confidence in her veteran teammates. After struggling with errors earlier in the preseason, Aloha only had one mishap against the Indians, playing sound defense behind Coombs and letting the junior pitch to contact. Coombs kindled three pop outs in the top of the sixth with a herd of inside pitches on the hands, and sat down the side in order in the seventh for the win.

“We just shut ‘em down,” said Coombs. “I wanted to ahead (in the count) early, so I could throw as many junk pitches as I wanted to.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha senior shortstop Michelle Silva drove in three runs for the Warriors against The Dalles.

Disciplined at the plate and looking for the first good strike to smack, the Warriors patiently waited for the right ball to hit and then went at it aggressively. Silva tacked on two more RBIs with hard-hit singles in the fourth and sixth innings. Katie Buchanan added a sac fly in the sixth and Wahlstrom walloped her second double of the game to bring Aloha’s hit total to 10 for the contest.

“Anybody’s capable of getting that game-winning hit on our team,” said Silva. “I like our batting order a lot because we have good, spread out hitters throughout our lineup. We’re sure to hit all the way through. I love how we’re hitting the ball.”